Another Day, Another Theme

Yes, I changed my look again.

A few weeks ago I went on a tour of the Amstel House in New Castle, Delaware. This is an historic home in the historic town where William Penn first landed in America. Our tour guide shared with us various tidbits from the home’s history. Most notably, George Washington once honored the owners, the Van Dyke family, by attending a wedding in the parlor. According to the guide, General Washington stood by the fireplace and “kissed all of the pretty girls, as was his wont.” And then he enjoyed an evening of dancing.

GW, what a party animal.

She also pointed out a chair where another famous guest, the Marquis de Lafayette, once sat. It was an otherwise unremarkable chair, but we gazed at it with all the admiration due a piece of furniture inhabited–albeit briefly–by America’s favorite Frenchman.

As we were leaving the room with the fireplace and the chair, the tour guide also reminded us that, in Colonial times, people moved furniture on a regular basis. Tables, sofas, chairs–these were shuffled around to accommodate whatever happening was happening on any given day.  In Colonial times, unlike today, visitors did not hang out in the kitchen, so all the action took place in the parlor. If food was served, the parlor’s table was set in the middle of the room. If there was dancing, the table was pushed to the wall. If the men wanted to talk, chairs were brought close together. If women wanted to do needlework, chairs were moved toward the best light source.

We also viewed the kitchen of Amstel House. It was small, though big enough for the times. One wall featured a bricked, walk-in hearth and built-in furnace.  The thought of preparing a meal there, in a long skirt, with an open fire at your feet, made me back away and break out in a sweat.

But I digress. What the Colonial families did with their furniture was not considered redecorating. It was making a change to suit an event.

This is how I view my ever-changing look here, except rather than an event, I change to suit my mood. Conventional wisdom says authors should develop a set look, a brand, that is easily recognizable. I see the sense in that, but I also rebel against it.

It seems savvy enough to have a series of books, or an author’s body of work, bear an easily recognizable look. But is it necessary for a blog? Does it matter?

So tell me. Do you find a theme change disconcerting? Do you change your website’s look just for fun? Do you even notice when it happens?

Ramona

18 thoughts on “Another Day, Another Theme

  1. Like everything, blogs must evolve and change. We kept our masthead, but changed everything else. One of the reasons; our blog space was too small in width, which made blogs appear long. Most readers evaluate a blog in a glance. If it is too long, they turn away. I made the blog as wide as I could without having a scroll bar underneath to navigate from one side to the other, which would be pain to readers too. We also included our pictures to depict our writing progress and additional pages to promote our writing.

    Like

    • E.B., you make a very good point. Readability is crucial on any online site. If I have to strain to read, I’m gone, and what you say about readers knowing in a glance if they will stay or go, is excellent to remember.

      Fun pictures are also a perk. This is my next step, but I want to do original photos. Another # on my to-do list.

      Like

  2. I recently changed mine to be more in sync with my author site – from a library look to simple green, much like yours.

    The look of a blog doesn’t bother me – and it doesn’t bother me when it changes. I think an author site has to be changed less frequently, but yeah, I think you should be able to change your blog look without alarming readers. I mean, if we’re supposed to credit them with intelligence in our writing, I think we should credit them with enough intelligence to adjust to a change in blog theme.

    And btw, I like the new look.

    Like

  3. Hi Ramon,

    I like the look. I think a blog is an extension of me and my personality. As such, I’m a re-decorator. I like to spice up the decor from time to time at home and to jazz up my wardrobe as well. I see nothing wrong with shaking up the blog format. The only thing is I know I’m not the type to ever get a tattoo because I’d soon tire of it. If I get tired of the drapes in 10 years, you know a rose on the ankle would soon grow old and then I’d be stuck.

    Janice

    Like

    • Janice, a wonderful excuse not to get a tattoo–sounds much better than “needles scare me.”

      I have been searching for a clean look, because that is what I like, but this one will probably bore me sometime too, so as you say, I’ll spice things up when that happens.

      Like

  4. Hi Ramona,
    I have your blog delivered to my inbox so I wouldn’t have known about the change if you hadn’t mentioned it. I’ve been thinking about this very subject (not the blog part, but the writer developing a set look, a brand concept) lately. I think if you have a strong POV, regardless of updates or changes, your “brand” will come through. It’s like voice only with images and themes, not words!

    Like

    • Diane, I don’t want to discount the value of a look or brand. Maybe the message from me, personally, is I like change. My blog reflects that.

      But I do think a static image or brand is a good thing, hence my love affair with the fleur de lis.

      Like

  5. I tend to leave things as they are unless there is a problem that needs to be solved (like the end of Apple’s MobileMe to host my web site). Then I appreciate the help of others in setting up a new way — thanks for that, Ramona! That said, I did just put away the bunnies of spring and summer and get out the pumpkins of fall . . . so I do some minimal changing once in a while.
    I understand that some of the changing of rooms in earlier times also had to do with the seasons. With no central heat (and not even a notion of a/c), fabrics and furniture placement could help cope with temperature extremes.
    Good instincts on the fireplace for cooking. A re-enactor told me that long skirts catching fire (and the lack of antibiotics) and falls down stairs because of long skirts were major causes of women’s deaths. Those handy metal grates in front of fireplaces were a relatively modern invention . . .

    Like

    • Mary, this fireplace was quite small and crowded, and you can be sure it was not the ladies of the house crammed back there cooking. She noted the servants wore skirts above the ankles because of the fire danger, but that seemed like little protection to me. There are many positives about the past, but I happily embrace the advances in modern cookery!

      Like

  6. I’m troubled by this myself. I want an identity that brands me and my work… but I can’t bring myself to populate my blogsite with all the torsos and curlicues I see on other romance blogs, nor do I like the canned wallpapers. I like clean sites, not busy… so I found a quote and photoshopped it on my hummingbird picture (which is my own) and hopefully it identifies me, but it’s not at all romantic.
    In my opinion (which you know I love to share with any who listen – or any who don’t listen…!) I think you should keep the fleur de lis at the very least, and plan your look around it. I know where you’re from, and even though I have the same Acadienne blood heritage (ancestors buried in Patterson LA), mine’s diluted to the point it just isn’t authentic for me. But it is for you, and it makes you unique, and it fits your name – from those two things I can tell pretty much what you’re about and where you’re from.
    So you tell me.. what can you tell from my hummingbird?

    Like

    • From your hummingbird, I would say you embrace freedom and are curious and observant, but maybe a little flighty, too. 🙂 As for torsos and curlicues, that sounds like a fun name for a gift shop!

      I do plan to keep the fleur de lis and incorporate it more fully. Once I haul out the camera and have a photo shoot of some of my meaningful possessions, this will make more sense.

      Thanks for the thoughts and for sharing them–I’m always pleased to hear your opinions, Pamela!

      Like

  7. I think it’s a personality thing. Some people like change more than others. I tend to keep things the same, in terms of both furnishings and my blog theme, but I like to tinker with the sidebars and such when I have the spare time. My blog is called “Saints and Trees” and the theme looks both nature-oriented and also kind of ecclesiastical (at least to me), so I would have a hard time finding another that I like as much.

    For my author website, on the other hand, I would really like to play with the header to make it more distinctive and maybe change that every so often. Yet another skill to learn! But I think it would be fun. Looking forward to seeing what you do with your “photo shoot.”

    I don’t think it dilutes your identity to change the look every so often, but I do like Pamela’s idea of highlighting the fleur de lys. It’s a nice little avatar.

    Thanks for the fun post!

    Like

    • Nancy, I think your “Saints and Trees” blog is a good reflection of both your theme, and you.

      Your comment “Yet another skill to learn!” is so true, to blogs specifically and writing/publishing in general. This is not an industry for someone unwilling to grow and change–just like our characters!

      Like

  8. I become bored looking at my own blog, and I like to fiddle with colors and widgets, so I change my format periodically. It seems that new WP themes, however, are more suited to pictures than to words. And I’m a word person. I’d like to post striking photos, but I’ll have to spend more time with my camera than I’ve been willing to so far. Maybe when the temperature drops another ten degrees.

    Since my blog shuttles back and forth between eclectic and haphazard (a mood thing), I’m afraid there isn’t much hope I’ll ever manage a brand. But maybe I could come up with something like your fleur de lys. Something not a cat.

    Like

    • LOL, Kathy, on “Something not a cat.” I am a fiddler in real life, so why not reflect that here? I admit it, I like change!

      My husband, who is in the media business as well, preaches about simplicity. There are different tastes, of course, but I think ease of use and attractiveness are key. Plus, if you are into branding, a visual identifier. Those three should give the fiddlers room to play.

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s